Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blood Work Gone Bad!

My son needed to get 8 vials of blood drawn for the tests required by the psychiatrist and the nephrologist. If you’ve been following our story for some time, you might remember that drawing blood was almost impossible and usually lead to explosive behavior.

Fortunately, thanks to his current medication, therapeutic steps and relaxation techniques, we’ve arrived to a place where our son was willing to get his blood drawn, no longer using ELMA cream to numb the skin and Ativan to relax him. But after friday’s blood draw, we may be taking a step backwards.

My son started the appointment with a great attitude, feeling pretty excited that he was missing out on a spelling test. When the staff brought us back, I explained that he had a history of anxiety when it comes to blood work and that we needed to do a few things to help him relax.

The first step was getting my son plugged into my iPhone where he could listen to relaxing sounds like the ocean and forest. As I was preparing the headset, I asked the nurse to wait until he was listening to the music. The nurse responded, “Sure, no problem”. But it was taking me a little longer than normal and I apologized and told her that I was hurrying as fast as I could. Then to our complete surprise, the nurse stuck the needle in his arm. Both my son and I were stunned, I immediately told my son to put his focus on his DS game, but then I noticed that the nurse was having problems getting blood into the vial. So the other nurse began moving the needle around, twisting it in different directions hoping to get the blood to flow.

It was then that I realized that the nurse was probably in training, thus requiring the second nurse to supervise. I tried to keep my son calm, seeing the anxiety rise. Then the nurse announce that we needed to try a different vein.

Oh crap! That’s all my mind could think. I could feel my own heart racing as I tried to keep my son calm, reassuring him that we would be done soon. As they stuck the needle in a different vein, the blood started to flow, but after about 4 bottles, my son looked at me as his face turned pale and mumbled, “I feel sick...”

Then a moment later, he fainted and slumped down into the chair.

Of course I freaked out, but the nurses calmly said, “Oh, don’t worry, this happens all the time,” as they pulled the needle out of his arm with 4 empty vials still remaining.

If you have a child with a needle phobia and a mood disorder, I don’t think I need to explain the panic I was feeling at this moment. Yes, my son would recover from the fainting spell, but how were we going to get the rest of the required blood?

After a moment too long, my son started to awaken, realizing that he had passed out. His cry was heartbreaking and the look in his eyes told me all I needed to know. He was done with the lab.

I instantly began the work of calming him back down, asking the nurses to give us a moment, trying my best to make him feel safe and avoid a public rage. I also had to explain that we weren’t done and that they needed to stick his other arm to complete the blood test.

As I tried my best to reestablish a calm state in him, one of the nurses in a very loud, rude voice popped her head back into the room and announce that we needed to hurry this up because they had a lot of other people waiting.

It was then that my Mama Bear claws came out.

I calmly walked up to the nurse and in a very low, stern voice said, “You need to lower your voice right now or he’s going to go into a violent rage. We need more time and you need to leave us alone because you’re stressing him out!”

To my surprise, she quietly whispered, “ok.” and walked away.

Once he was calm and the color returned back into his face, I carried him to a bed where he could lay down. This was no easy move since he’s now as tall as me. I then told all the nurses to leave us alone and I would let them know when we were ready. From there, I put his calm music into his ears and began to massage his feet and legs, coaching him how to think happy thoughts to help his mind escape the next blood draw. Several times I kissed his forehead and whipped the tears that quietly fell from his eyes, this was killing me inside.

After a short time he bravely said, “Lets get this over with.”

Thankfully we got the head nurse to take over and she drew the rest of the blood in less than a minute. Before we left, one of the original nurses apologized to both my son and I saying, “I’m so sorry, it was all my fault that you fainted, I should’ve waited until you had your music ready.”

After that, I took my boy home and told him that he didn’t have to go to school since he suffered enough stress for one day. Myself included.


23 comments:

  1. I have mixed feelings on this issue.
    I have almost passed out from giving blood once too so I feel so much sympathy for your little man but I am so happy you were able to help him calm down without an Ativan. Blood work is never fun.

    My mixed feeling is that I almost think you should have taken him back to school because he does need to know that he shouldn't let his anxiety prevent him from functioning. Then again momma knows best and if you think your son needed the rest of the day to regroup then I trust your judgement.
    Thank goodness that appointment is over. I hope the results are good!

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    1. I understand your viewpoint and the importance of teaching him to overcome these challenges, as you mentioned, sometimes mom’s just know when their kid can't get pushed anymore and I wanted to prevent an episode at school since it would hurt both him and those around him. It definitely is a tricky process of knowing when it is time to teach and when it is time to protect. I’m sure it will take me a lifetime to master. : )

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  2. Whoooboy! That brought back some memories! It used to take 6 men and a monkey to hold my son down for blood tests! I don't know exactly why, but after we both needed blood tests and he watched me get mine done first, it was like someone flipped a switch. Thank you, God!
    My son is now 19 bipolar, depressed and paranoid. He and I live alone and his younger brother live with their dad because the older one used to be a physical threat to the younger one. Anyway, everyday is a new adventure. Sometimes bad times can change to good times in a flash or (sigh) it can be the other way around. Right now, my goal is to (finally) get him through his senior year of highschool. One step at a time, one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time! I am so happy to know that I'm not alone in raising a mentally ill child in a sometimes very mean world.
    Thank you for your blog!
    Pat

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    1. Thanks for reading Pat. You’re right that we have to take it one minute at a time and how quickly things can change in either direction. Sometimes I think I’m getting better at being prepared for that, but other times it still feels like a slap in the face.

      That’s awesome that your son is almost done with school. I’m starting to feel the pains of puberty entering into the equation and it terrifies me. I can only imagine the challenges you have experienced during these rough years! I hope to hear from you again!

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  3. I am so angry at those nurses. No excuse for that! I'm and RN and that appalls me to no end. A nasty letter to the director of nursing is in order (or were they lab tech/phlebotomists?)

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    1. I did have that feeling of wanting to share with the head nurse what happened, but things were too busy. I don’t know if we’ll go back to that lab or try another one, I’ll let me son decide. But next time I’ll be more prepared in prepping the nurses before we start.

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  4. Mama Bear, I feel so bad and I have been where you are, unfortunately. These labs are always so busy and even though you tried to tell them that your son needed time to relax, they still did not get it. I love that your claws came out! That's what Moms do. Your son deserves a pat on the back for being a trooper and you do to! So sorry for you both-but glad you spoke up.

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    1. Thanks, I have to admit I felt a little bad that my claws came out since the women were just trying to get their job done, but I think it was helpful for my son to see that I’ll always have his back.

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  5. Thanking you for being brave enough to share your life with us. I have a 19 year old son who is bipolar, depressed and paranoid. I have learned to treasure the good days and survive the bad ones! The grace of God gets us through it all.

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    1. Pat-My husband and I talk about that a lot, how it is God that gets us through. How is your son doing today? What were the worst years for you?

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  6. It's a long haul with psychiatric medications that need blood work done, as well as the monitoring of body functions via blood work that are necessary. Over time, my child's arms got a scar tissue build up from so many blood work ups that now, as an adult it is even more difficult. Prepare for the long haul--he will have to get used to it, and hopefully you'll find a lab crew who will treat him with more respect. Good luck.

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    1. Yikes! I’ve never heard of the scar tissue, thanks for the heads up. I do hope to find a great lab team that can work with my son a little better, hopefully that will keep his anxiety at bay.

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  7. :( So sad for your son and you. Way to take care of the situation, keep up the great work!!!

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    1. Thanks! : ) It was a pretty sad day for me, I felt so bad for him, he seemed so vulnerable during this expereince.

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  8. You rock, Mama Bear, and so does your son! So great that you stood up to that nurse and did what you needed for your boy and that he found the courage to finish the blood work after going through all that.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, it really helps!

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  9. I love your comment to the nurse :) Hopefully this experience will get better over time for him.

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    1. I hope so too. I think my comment, if anything, taught him that I will always be there for him.

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  10. I would send in a letter addressing your concerns about what happened. That happened once to my 5 year old when having blood drawn. And i complained and next time things were much better. Wether they were busy or not they need to take their time and treat each patient young or old with respect.

    Kay

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  11. Mama Bear you and your son are troopers! Don't feel bad about the claws, they just like everyone else need to be trained on how to deal with people who are different. The nurse stepped out of line, and like a good mom, you firmly redirected her.

    Personally I don't think a letter is necessary, since the nurse realized her mistake and apologized to you. Hopefully this experience will make her a lot more aware with all her future patients. Being formally redressed for the mistake might make her feel less willing to work with you if you go back to that clinic and get her again.

    One thing you might want to do is ask the clinic if they have times of the day or days of the week that tend to be less busy and try to go at those times in the future? (you may have already done that?)

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  12. Good point, I will call next time for the best time to visit, that should help a lot!

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  13. As someone who took lithium for many years, I would have told her to get out, get a new technician. He fainted and she was in a rush! Sheeesh. He's a CHILD, and many adults hate, or are phobic of needles! She could have used some compassion!

    How did she NOT see the fainting coming and have something to help him out after? Sugar or something to help him a bit? Check his blood pressure to make sure it was safe to do it again?

    Hello, I'm San, and I'm 29, and have been suffering from bipolar 1 with psychosis since the age of 14.

    Have you thought of asking for butterfly needles? They are generally smaller, I find they hurt less (I don't ask for them, but when they use them, they're really neat!) and they are neat to look at, more freedom, you don't have to be so stiff.

    I do like the techniques you have in place for him, very thoughtful and genius! Distractions are great. Find a good lab to go to with good techs that are friendly and gentle. Sorry this comment is a little late, but I read it and raged. He's a child, still, that's a lotta blood, and to faint and "we need more!".. how rude. You handled it exceptionally well, and so did he. I applaud you.

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    1. Thanks San! I have never heard about a butterfly needle, I’ll have to look into it.

      I’m curious about your story. Would you be interested in sharing your story with us through an interview I do through email? Let me know, you can email me at mysonhas2brains@gmail.com

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